Practical Guidelines

Accessing the Graduate Computing LAN | Applying for a Teaching Assistantship | Applying for a Research Assistantship | Asking for a Desk | Guidelines for MEng Project Report Preparation


Accessing the Graduate Computing LAN

Permission from the research supervisor must be obtained to get access to the graduate LAN and its specialized licensed software. Students must apply by e-mail to bill.cook [at] (Dr. William Cook), the LAN Account Manager, to be granted access. Use your McGill e-mail address for such correspondence.

The following information must be included in the e-mail request:

  1. Subject Line – Request for graduate LAN access
  2. Full Name (Last, First)
  3. McGill ID Number
  4. Department (if not from civil)
  5. Degree Program and Year (i.e. PhD-Year2)
  6. Office Room Number
  7. Office Phone Number
  8. Name of Research Supervisor

If you wish to charge all your printing directly to your supervisor’s research account, you must obtain their permission by e-mail and forward the message to the LAN account manager.

The Graduate Computer Laboratory is located in room ENGMD 290.


 Applying for a Teaching Assistantship

The Department employs registered graduate students to assist in the marking of assignments and the conduct of tutorials, laboratories, and field trips associated with undergraduate courses.  The Teaching Assistantships provide graduate students an opportunity to obtain teaching experience and at the same time to supplement income (see Graduate funding opportunities).

All Teaching Assistants at McGill are covered under the collective bargaining agreement between the University and the Association of Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM).

The duties of a TA may vary according to the nature of the course and the requirement set out by each individual professor in charge of the course.

The assignment of a TA to the courses is in accordance to the following factors:

  • demonstrated ability, as supported by recommendation from the course instructor
  • qualification of the graduate student
  • number of positions available
  • available departmental budget for TAs
  • priority for Canadian and Landed Immigrant students
  • priority for PhD students

The re-appointment of a TA is not automatic and is based on professor recommendation, student evaluation and Departmental needs.  An appointment may be withheld from a graduate student if the student has exceeded his or her residency period:  This is to encourage completion of the thesis.

TA assignments are made on a semester basis and are typically for 6 hours per week for the 13‑week semester (78 hours per semester).  Students who want to be considered for a teaching assistantship must apply for the position as listed on the Career Planning Service (CAPS) website.

General Requirements

The professor in charge of each course is totally responsible for the assignment of specific TA duties, and the graduate student should go to see the designated professor immediately after the TA list is posted, for the purpose of determining precise responsibilities.  The general requirements of the TA positions described here are intended as a general guideline only.

The role of TA could require the graduate student to assume any or all of the five following responsibilities:

1. Tutorial Assistant

This task includes the provision of assistance to the undergraduate student during scheduled tutorial periods. In general, the TA is expected to assist the students in the understanding of course material and the completion of course assignments. The methods of assistance may include both one‑on‑one instruction and lecturing to the full group or small groups of students.

2. Grading of Assignments

This is typically the major task of the TA position and may include the following responsibilities:

(a) preparation of a solution for each assignment, after discussion with the professor in regard to the solution
(b) grading of the assignments, in accordance with a predetermined marking scheme which differentiates between:
  •  correctness of the method
  •  accuracy of the calculations
  •  neatness of presentation
  •  assurance of individual student submissions
  •  submission of assignment on time
  •  inclusion of constructive written comments on student papers

(c) recording of the assignment grades, maintenance of an on going record of grades for the tutorial sessions, typically on MyCourses,
(d) posting of solutions for assignments on MyCourses,
(e) returning of the graded papers to students.

3. Laboratory Assistant

The responsibilities of a lab assistant are related specifically to assisting the undergraduate students in the performance of a structured exercise of testing and experimentation using specified lab equipment. Associated tasks may include:

  • the preparation of the lab equipment
  • familiarization by the TA with the conduct of the experiment and associated equipment
  • guidance in the safe use of the equipment for the specified tests and experiments
  • assistance to students in the preparation of lab reports
  • maintenance of the general condition and orderliness of the lab equipment at the end of the session and as otherwise required
  • recording of the laboratory report grades, maintenance of an on going record of grades, typically on MyCourses

4. Consultation During Scheduled Office Hours

The TA may also be expected to be available to assist undergraduate students with course‑related questions outside scheduled course sessions. If this is the case, the TA is required to establish specific office hours during the week and that the office room number, location, phone number, and consultation hours be given to the class at the beginning of the semester and posted on the course webpage.

5. Assistant on Field Trips

This task requires the assistance of the TA in the preparation and conduct of field trips associated with undergraduate courses.

It is expected that the mix of these five duties will vary from course to course and from professor to professor, but it is important for the TA to pre‑arrange his/her specific commitment to each course, within the weekly six‑hour time commitment.  Any problems which arise during the semester in regard to graduate student time commitments, undergraduate student discipline and behaviour, disputes over the marking of assignments, etc. should be brought to the attention of the professor in charge immediately.


 Applying for a Research Assistantship

Research Assistantships are sometimes available from individual professors' research funds for students undertaking the MEng Thesis Option or MSc.  While the results of the research a student carries out as a paid Research Assistant will usually be used for his/her MEng or PhD Thesis, this is not necessarily the case. Research Assistantships are not normally available for MEng Project Option students. Research assistantship job postings are found on the Career Planning Service (CAPS) website.  AMURE is the union representing research associates and assistants.


Asking for a Desk

Any registered graduate student in the Department requiring the use of a desk should contact the Graduate Student Accommodation Director andrew.boyd [at] (Professor Andrew Boyd). Desks will be assigned to students as they become available, with priority being given as follows:

  1. Postdoctoral students

  2. PhD students

  3. MEng (Thesis Option) and MSc students

  4. Students holding TA positions

  5. MEng (Project Option) students

Desk and key swapping is not permitted without permission from the student’s direct supervisor AND the Graduate Student Accommodation Director. All such requests must include justification supporting the change.  Anyone who changes desks without permission risks losing both their old and new desks.

Upon completion of their degree, or once the desk is no longer needed, students must notify the Graduate Student Accommodation Director, typically via their Clearance Form. Failure to do so in a timely manner may result in a delayed graduation.

Graduate student offices are located in Rooms 165 (Tel. 5370), 275 (Tel. 1609), 391 (Tel. 6871), 396 (Tel. 8313), 398, and 569 (Tel. 4387), of the Macdonald Engineering Building.


Guidelines for MEng Project Report Preparation General

A Master's project report is similar to a Master's thesis in terms of familiarity with previous work, ability to carry out a major independent design project, and organization and presentation of results in good literary style.  The only significant differences arise due to the fact that project-related research or design work is generally of a lesser scope and is conducted on a topic of more immediate practical application. 


A project report should not be more than 80–100 pages long, including all appendices, tables, figures, etc. Manuscript-based project reports are not accepted.


The preface of a project report must acknowledge the assistance received by the author in completing the project.  The report should also contain a statement as to the significance of the work (in terms of its originality and usefulness) and its worth in terms of the number of credits allotted to it (minimum 5, maximum 15).

Content Organization of a Project Report

  1. A pro forma cover page must be obtained from the Graduate Program Coordinator who will assign a report number that will need to appear on that page.
  2. The project report must include a title page, giving the title of the project, the author's name followed by the department and university names, the month and year the report is submitted, and the following statement: “A project report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements (x credits out of the minimum required 45 credits) for the degree of Master of Engineering. No universal copyright is required for a project report but it is good practice to add one.
  3. The project report must contain separate English and French abstracts, each within the limit of 150 words.
  4. The project report should begin with Acknowledgements, a Table of Contents, a List of Figures, a List of Tables, and a List of Symbols, all on separate pages and numbered as preliminary pages, typically in lower case roman numbers.
  5. The text of the report must begin with the Introduction chapter, and end with the Conclusions chapter.  The Introduction must introduce the subject gradually by summarizing important achievements of previous workers in a connected fashion and in chronological order. It should then clearly state the motivation for undertaking the submitted work.  The Conclusions chapter should be brief, and must reiterate the important findings together with suggestions for further work.  A List of References quoted in the text must be given at the end of the main report followed by Appendices if relevant.
  6. The report pages must be numbered so that the Introduction chapter starts on Page 1.
  7. Appropriate SI units must be used in project reports. Equivalent numbers in Imperial or any other system of units may be stated in parentheses immediately after the SI numbers.
  8. Students desiring further guidance for project report preparation may also consult the guidelines concerning thesis preparation published by the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office of the University at: